Be Ready – Become a CBSA Officer

Frequently Asked Questions

Application Process

How do I apply to become a border services officer?

For information on how to apply to become a border services officer, please visit the job opportunities section of the Government of Canada's jobs.gc.ca website and type in “CBSA officer trainee (developmental)” in the What/Job Title Keywords section of the search tool.

Before applying however, we encourage individuals to check out the Be Ready – Become a CBSA Officer web pages.

To become a border services officer, individuals must apply to the CBSA officer trainee (developmental) selection process; successfully complete the Officer Induction Training Program (OITP) and the Officer Induction Development Program, and meet all of the conditions of employment.

How long does it take to become a border services officer?

Phase I – the selection process – On average, this process takes between six to nine months to complete.

Phase II – the Officer Induction Training Program – This program is comprised of four weeks of distance online training and 18 weeks of in-residence training at the CBSA College in Rigaud, Quebec.

Phase III – the Officer Induction Development Program – The on-the-job development program takes between 12 and 18 months to complete.

Once all three phases are successfully completed, you then become a border services officer. Overall, the process can take up to three years to complete. For further information on the training and development program, check out the From Recruit to Officer Trainee web page.

I read that my application will be included in an inventory. What does that mean?

An inventory is a group of applicants that have applied to the position, but have not yet been assessed as part of a selection process. As this is an ongoing selection process, the CBSA has established an inventory from which applications can be accessed and candidates selected for further assessment.

How long is my application valid?

Applications are active in the jobs.gc.ca system for 180 days. A notice that your application is about to expire will be posted to the “My Jobs” menu of your account 14 days before the end of these 180 days. To remain in the inventory, applicants simply update their inventory status and their application remains valid for a further 180 days.

If you do not update your status before the 180 days are up, your application will expire and you will no longer appear in the inventory.

Should your application become inactive, a notice will be posted to your jobs.gc.ca account indicating that your application has expired. You may select the link “Update my Inventory Status” to reaffirm your interest and rejoin the inventory.

New Selection Process

I just read/saw that the inventory for the officer trainee (developmental) position is closed. Does this mean the current process I am about to do my test/interview for is cancelled?

No, the selection process you are about to test or interview for continues and testing and interviews will proceed as scheduled. The launch of the new selection process will not impact the assessment of candidates that are part of the previous selection process.

I applied to the old selection process. How do I know if my application is still being processed as part of the selection process?

If you applied for an officer trainee (developmental) position before 23:59 PST, July 8, 2014, the Agency continues to process applications and will contact applicants regarding testing and assessment as appropriate. If you have any questions about the status of your application, please contact the National Recruitment Team.

Completing the Application

How long does it take to complete the online application?

That depends on the user. First, you will need to set up an account in the Public Service Resourcing System www.jobs.gc.ca, which typically takes 10 to 15 minutes. Once you have an account, you can apply to the position directly through the system. It could take anywhere between 30 to 65 minutes, depending on how detailed your answers are and if you have all of the necessary information on hand.

To help make the application process easier, read over the application first to find out what documentation is required and what questions you will need to answer. Print out or copy and save the questions in a Word document so you can work on the answers at your leisure. Once you have all of your answers prepared, and your resumé/CV ready, log back into the system and complete the application.

Don't forget to save your work regularly while you complete the application, and please note that individuals can only apply online for this selection process.

How long will it take to hear back from the CBSA after I apply?

That depends on when you apply. The Agency consistently pulls eligible candidates from the inventory for assessment multiple times per year. Once applications have been selected for further assessment, candidates are typically contacted within a couple of weeks to begin the assessment process by writing the standardized test(s).

Please ensure that you keep your contact details up-to-date because if we can't reach you, we can't test or interview you.

Also of note, if you answered “no” to any of the basic requirements when you filled out your application, you will not be selected from the inventory to proceed with assessments.

How long is the process from the time I submit my online application until I am invited to attend the Officer Induction Training Program at the CBSA College?

For candidates who successfully complete the selection process, on average it takes between six to nine months from the time their application is pulled from the inventory to the time they are invited to attend the CBSA College.

As the selection process consists of multiple tests and interviews, individual processing times will vary.

What is the difference between a condition of employment and an operational requirement?

A condition of employment is a requirement other than a qualification which must be met at the time of appointment to the position and maintained throughout employment.

Operational requirements are merit criteria and therefore, conditions which you must meet to be eligible for the selection process.

For more information please visit the Treasury Board Secretariat's website.

Personal Decision Point/Willingness to Work Anywhere

Do I really have to be willing to work anywhere in Canada?

Yes. To be appointed to the officer trainee (developmental) position, you must be willing to work anywhere in Canada based on the needs of the CBSA, including rural and remote areas.

Where can I find more information on the potential work locations for officer trainees and/or border services officers?

For more information on potential CBSA work locations, please consult the Directory of CBSA Offices.

If I am already a public servant or CBSA employee, do I have the right to select my location of work first if I am successful in OITP?

No. Work locations are determined by the operational needs of the Agency, and the CBSA is very serious about mobility as a condition of employment. Officer trainees must accept an assigned posting at a port of entry anywhere in Canada, including rural and remote areas.

A variety of positions will be available and a process is in place to allow you to indicate some preference; however, it is likely you will be assigned to an area of Canada that is totally new to you.

My significant other is already a border services officer/serving in the military/a member of the RCMP. Will I be able to be posted to the same work location or does this entitle me to have priority at this location?

No. While a variety of positions will be available and a process is in place to allow you to indicate some preference, it is likely you will be assigned to an area of Canada that is totally new to you. Work locations are determined by the operational needs of the Agency, and the CBSA is very serious about mobility as a condition of employment. To become an officer trainee, recruits must accept an assigned CBSA officer trainee posting at a port of entry anywhere in Canada, including rural and remote areas.

Basic Requirements

What documentation is required to prove I have a secondary school diploma or a post-secondary degree?

Candidates will be asked to provide proof of their education by bringing their original diploma/degree/certification, plus a photocopy. If you do not have your original diploma/degree/certification, you must provide an original letter from an accredited educational institution confirming the diploma/degree/certificate and a copy of the official letter.

Persons with foreign credentials will need to ensure that these credentials are recognized in Canada. The Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials assists persons who wish to obtain an assessment of their educational, professional, and occupational credentials by referring them to the appropriate organizations.

Do I need a valid driver's licence before I apply?

As this is an operational requirement and may be applied at any stage of the selection process, you must be able to produce a driver's licence that was valid at the time of your application when requested to do so.

If you fail to bring the required documentation when requested to do so, you will not be permitted to continue in the selection process.

Why do I need to have a valid driver's licence?

A valid driver's licence is required as officer trainees and border services officers could, when necessary, be required to operate a government vehicle while performing work duties.

Additionally, a licence can be helpful for individuals who work various shifts, weekends, and holidays, and/or at locations where public transportation or carpooling is not always available.

How do I know if I have the proper documentation to prove completion of the firearms training?

Original copies of the documents listed below are accepted as proof of completion of the required firearms safety training.

  1. Form CAFC 332 for the Canadian Firearms Safety Course (CFSC) and/or the Canadian Restricted Firearms Safety Course Report (CRFSC). The course report(s) must clearly indicate you have successfully completed both required firearms safety courses. (The box in the top right-hand corner of the form indicates which course(s) you have successfully completed.)
  2. A valid or an expired Possession and Acquisition License (PAL). As the above-noted firearms safety courses do not have an expiry date and individuals usually apply for their PAL following the successful completion of the safety courses, the Agency will accept expired PALs as proof an individual has completed this requirement.

If you have lost the original copies of your CAFC 332 form(s), please contact the Chief Firearms Officer of the province or territory where you took the training for information on how to obtain copies of your CAFC 332 forms.

What if I can't find proof that I have successfully completed the firearms safety courses? How do I prove completion?

If you are missing the Canadian Firearms Safety Course (CFSC) and/or Canadian Restricted Firearms Safety Course (CRFSC) documentation, please contact the course provider or your provincial or territorial Chief Firearms Officer.

Please remember that at any point during the selection process you may be required to provide proof that you meet the basic requirements.

If you fail to bring the required documentation when requested to do so, you will not be permitted to continue in the selection process.

I took my firearms safety courses ten years ago. Are they still valid?

Yes. As both firearms safety courses do not have expiry dates, they are still valid.

Please ensure that you have the original documentation provided by your provincially/territorially approved course provider that states that you have successfully completed the courses and tests. If you do not have this documentation, please contact the original course provider or your provincial/territorial Chief Firearms Officer to obtain documentation confirming your successful completion of both courses.

Are my military firearms qualifications equivalent to the CBSA firearms requirement?

No. While your military firearms qualifications may serve you well during the use of force training, all applicants must have successfully completed the Canadian Firearms Safety Course (CFSC) and the Canadian Restricted Firearms Safety Course (CRFSC).

Citizenship

What do you mean by “Canadian citizen”?

A Canadian citizen is a person who possesses Canadian citizenship by birth or through the naturalization process under the Canadian Citizenship Act.

You mention that “preference is given to Canadian citizens”. I am a permanent resident, can I still apply?

As per the poster, applications submitted by persons who are not Canadian citizens are accepted. However, in advertised external appointment processes, organizations governed by the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA), such as the CBSA, shall give preference for appointments to those who meet the essential qualifications in the following order:

  1. a person in receipt of a pension by reason of war service;
  2. a veteran or a survivor of a veteran;
  3. a Canadian citizen; and then
  4. persons not belonging to the previous groups.  

Language Requirements

Does being bilingual mean the ability to speak both English and French only or does it include English and any other second language?

When positions are classified as bilingual in the public service, they require a working knowledge of both official languages – English and French. This means that individuals possess the ability to speak, read, and write in both English and French at a designated level.

The proficiency levels for the bilingual CBSA officer trainee (developmental) position are BBB. For more information on how bilingualism is assessed in the public service, please visit the Public Service Commission's (PSC) website.

Selection Process

Testing/Interviews/Results

I wrote the same standardized tests for another department. Do I need to write them again for this selection process?

Not necessarily. As per the Privacy Act, federal departments and agencies cannot request or access individual's test results from other selection process. Therefore, it is the candidate's responsibility to ensure that the National Recruitment Team receives an official copy of any valid results from tests already written.

If you do not have a copy of your results, please request your official results from the Public Service Commission, scan them and then email them to the National Recruitment Team.

If I was screened out of the last process, are any of my successful results from the last selection process transferrable to this new selection process?

That depends on the tests. The standardized tests can be transferrable although it is the candidate's responsibility to provide the National Recruitment Team with their official PSC results.

Second language evaluation (SLE) results are valid for five (5) years, so if you received the required levels, they are transferrable. Again, it is the candidate's responsibility to provide the National Recruitment Team with their official results.

The MMPI is valid for two (2) years and the CAT III is valid for one year, but both are transferrable. Again, it is the candidate's responsibility to provide the National Recruitment Team with their official results.

I have completed a particular assessment in the selection process i.e. standardized test(s), interview, and have not received my results. When can I expect them?

Results will be provided to candidates as soon as they are available via email or Canada Post, depending on the sensitivity of the material included and as per privacy guidelines.

It can sometimes take longer for the Agency to obtain results from the test centres, so please be patient. If however, you have not received your standardized test results within two months of the date you wrote the test, please contact the National Recruitment Team.

The National Recruitment Team experiences a significant volume of correspondence on a daily basis; therefore, while we understand how much candidates want to receive their results, we respectfully request that candidates remain patient.

Candidates are reminded of the importance of ensuring their profile in the Public Service Resourcing System is up-to-date and remains active. Any changes to contact details should be updated as soon as possible. Additionally, if they have been contacted for assessment and their contact details have changed, they should provide an update to the National Recruitment Team via email. At times, out-of-date contact details have delayed test results.

I haven't received my test(s) or interview results yet, but have been invited for further assessment. Does this mean I have passed the test(s) or interview?

Not necessarily. As some administrative requests and assessments can be scheduled simultaneously, candidates may receive an invitation for another assessment, i.e. security screening process, prior to receiving previous results.  An invitation to another assessment does not necessarily indicate successful completion of a previous or concurrent assessment. Only an individual's formal test or interview results will inform candidates if they have been successful and will remain in the selection process.

All candidates will be notified in writing, via email or Canada Post, of the results for each assessment as soon as they are available.  

I wasn't successful during the interview. Why do I have to wait two years to re-apply?

The officer trainee (developmental) selection process is based on a competency profile. A competency is any measurable or observable knowledge, skill, ability or behavioural characteristic that contributes to successful job performance.

Candidates who are not successful in the interview stage are subject to a two-year waiting period before they can re-apply to allow an individual sufficient time to develop and improve on the required competencies.

Can I get feedback on why I wasn't successful during the interview?

No. While we understand the personal benefit, the CBSA officer trainee (developmental) selection process is an external selection process governed by the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA). Under the PSEA, government departments or agencies are not required to provide feedback regarding performance during an external selection process.

What is a Category III medical?

The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat Occupational Health Evaluation Standard states that potential border services officers must undergo a Category III pre-placement evaluation. To do so, a physician designated by Health Canada will complete an Occupational Health Assessment Report, which will attest a candidate's physical ability to participate in the Officer Induction Training Program and subsequently perform the duties of a CBSA officer trainee. This evaluation is not the same as, and is not intended to replace a general physical examination provided by a personal physician.

The Category III evaluation includes the completion of a confidential health questionnaire by the employee and designated physician, followed by a full clinical history and a physical examination including vision and hearing tests.

How do I get a Category III medical?

Candidates will be invited to proceed with a Category III medical assessment via an email from the CBSA (regional) Category III coordinator. This email will contain instructions on how to proceed with this assessment.

As this email will not come from the National Recruitment Team generic email address, individuals are reminded to check their spam folders regularly as some emails from generic and/or unknown email addresses are quarantined by some email providers.

I understand there are vision and hearing requirements. What are they?

As part of the Category III medical, candidates will have their vision and hearing tested. They must meet the following vision and hearing standards:

Vision: corrected vision 6/9 in the better eye and 6/15 in the other eye.
Hearing: no more than a 25 decibel loss (in the better ear) at a range between 500–3000 hertz. This standard applies with or without hearing aids.

Why do candidates have to undergo a psychological assessment as part of the selection process?

The CBSA, along with other law enforcement based agencies across Canada, uses psychological assessments as part of the recruitment processes to ensure that potential new officers are emotionally and psychologically suited to carry out and use non-lethal and lethal force equipment, including a firearm. It is also a prerequisite to undergo the use of force training duty firearm course that is a part of.

The assessments are used to assess an applicant's ability to exercise sound judgment in enforcement situations, and in particular where use of force may be required. Experienced clinicians and a clinical psychologist in designated offices across Canada administer the assessments.

Physical Abilities Standard

Why is the CBSA including the PARE in the selection process?

The introduction of the Physical Ability Requirement Evaluation (PARE) as part of the selection process for the CBSA officer trainee position provides the Agency with the ability to ensure the operational readiness of applicants to undergo the physically demanding use of force and physical fitness training prior to their participation in the OITP at the CBSA College.

The CBSA's inclusion of the PARE during the selection process will align the CBSA with other federal law enforcement partners.

Where do I go to take the PARE test?

The CBSA will provide candidates with a list of approved PARE test sites across Canada when they are requested to complete the PARE test. The request will come via email from the National Recruitment Team.

Is it true that I need to pass a medical before I take my PARE test?

Candidates will receive the PARE Medical Clearance form and a cover letter for physicians explaining the physical demands of the PARE when they are provided with the PARE test site locations. It will be the applicant's responsibility to set up an appointment with a physician to have them assess if they can participate in the PARE. Once they have received medical clearance from their physician, candidates will be able to set up an appointment with a PARE test site. Please note that the frequency of PARE test sessions varies by test site.

How much does the PARE test cost?

The cost of the PARE can range anywhere from $50 to $90, depending on where you are taking the test.

Candidates will be required to pay for each attempt at the PARE; therefore, it is important to prepare for the PARE before attempting it. For more information on preparing for the test, please visit our PARE section.

As the test is conducted by external service providers, it is the applicant's responsibility to research and select a test administrator.

Will I be reimbursed for the cost of the PARE?

Candidates will not be reimbursed the cost of the PARE test. The cost of the test is not unlike other requirements that you must obtain or possess to continue through the selection process, i.e. a valid driver's licence, the Canadian firearms safety courses.

I was successful when I undertook the PARE test. How long is my PARE result valid for?

For the CBSA officer trainee (developmental) selection process, PARE results will be valid for one (1) year from the date of PARE testing.

I was not successful when I undertook the PARE test. How long until I can take the test again?

There is no waiting period before attempting the PARE again; however, candidates should note that they will be required to pay for each attempt. Therefore, it is important to prepare for the PARE before attempting it. For more information on preparing for the test, please visit our PARE section.

Compensation/Leave

Will I be compensated while attending the in-residence portion of the OITP at the CBSA College?

Yes. The CBSA will provide an allowance of $125 per week, in lieu of salary, to all recruits for each week they attend the OITP at the CBSA College in Rigaud, Quebec. This allowance is not taxable and recruits will not receive a T4 for this allowance. Meals and accommodations are also provided free of charge.

Can I collect unemployment insurance while attending the college?

No. As per Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) guidance, individuals cannot collect unemployment insurance while they are participating in the Officer Induction Training Program. For more information, please contact CRA at 1-888-671-0337 or visit their website.

I am a public servant and my management has approved me taking paid leave during the 18-week OITP in-residence training. Will I also receive the allowance?
Yes. All recruits will receive an allowance of $125 per week, for each week they attend the OITP at the CBSA College in Rigaud, Quebec. This allowance is not taxable and recruits will not receive a T4 for this allowance.

I am a public servant. Will my pension and/or benefits be impacted if I take a period of leave without pay to attend the OITP?

Since all situations are different, it is recommended you contact your departmental compensation advisor to discuss how a leave without pay period would impact your benefits. If you have any questions regarding the effect on your public service pension plan contact the Public Service Pension Centre at 1-800-561-7930.

As a public servant, am I eligible for an assignment, secondment or interchange, whereby I would continue to receive my substantive salary while attending the in-residence portion of the OITP at the CBSA College?

No. The CBSA will not offer secondments, assignments or interchanges to candidates who are public servants and are invited to the OITP at the CBSA College. Public servants will receive the standard allowance of $125 per week in lieu of salary. Public servants should discuss with their manager which leave option is appropriate for their participation in the in-residence portion of the OITP.

As a public servant, what type of leave am I entitled to use to attend training at the CBSA College?

If you are a public servant and you are invited to attend the 18-week OITP in-residence training at the CBSA College, you must make arrangements for leave with your current manager. Options may include leave without pay for personal needs; annual; compensatory leave; or other leave entitlements as outlined in the applicable collective agreement or terms and conditions.

Can I request vacation leave while I am attending the OITP at the CBSA College?

No. Vacation leave is not permitted while recruits are participating in the OITP at the CBSA College.

General Questions

I have a question, can I call somebody?

Before contacting the National Recruitment Team, please consult the Be Ready – Become a CBSA Officer section of the CBSA website, including the FAQs, which contain a large amount of information on the selection process, the Officer Induction Training Program, the CBSA College, and the Officer Induction Development Program.

Due to the large volume of candidates, if you still have a question we request that you send your enquiry via email to national-recruitment_recrutement-national@cbsa-asfc.gc.ca and the recruitment team will answer your enquiry promptly.